“Some people are worth being crazy for” declares Barry Allen towards the end of this week’s Flashisode. While we’re pretty sure he was talking about significant others this could easy form the Latin inscription on the fanboy crest of arms. Some people, some characters and some shows are indeed worth the rest of the world calling you crazy for as we show our love for them in all the endless in jokes and memes that the uninitiated just confusingly moan about (secretly.... we know they want in) along with our devoted watching of each week’s episode. In just half a season The Flash has proven it’s a show worth being crazy for by delivering so many good memories we’d need super speed to count them all. This week is no exception and in fact it’s freaking fantastic! Flash, we will always be crazy for you.
Crazy For You – There’s a new metahuman in Central City that moves in a different kind of flash. The teleporting Shawna Baez (aka Peek-a-Boo) breaks her boyfriend Clay out of Iron Heights prison but must also help him pay back his old employer before they can leave town. Cisco releases Hartley from the prison to reveal what happened to Ronnie Raymond while Catlin and Barry try to move on with their love lives.
There’s a great feeling of realism amidst the comic crazy to this week’s main story. In a similar vein to Plastique earlier this season Shawna/Peek-a-Boo presents well as a more reluctant villain. In her opening prison break sequence she feels anything but confident and adept; clearly not a career criminal prior to joining the metahuman ranks. Then all her subsequent acts are purely encouraged by her boyfriend and still with some sense of morality; on both robbery occasions she only steels just enough rather than the whole amount. Her actions tie well into the central theme of being Beyonce level crazy in love and just wanting the pair of them to be able to escape. The Nightcrawler Vs Quicksilver/teleporting Vs speed fights make for great visual spectacles playing with the unorthodox fighting styles of both and seeing Shawna lay some decent old school beatings as well. After the tech heavy antics of the rogues since this series returned it’s nice to see more superpower based action again. Hopefully the series will continue intertwining the two to keep things nice and varied. Speaking of The Rogues, part 2 of Hartley “Pied Piper” Rathway’s was primarily a Firestorm explainer but still very enjoyable as he taunts Cisco through their part in the accelerator explosion when like a less gross human centipede, some became one. The security footage especially is seriously cool as Ronnie’s twisted face becomes visible among the nuclear energy. The few weeks look to be quite Firestorm prominent (the teaser implies next week will see an attempted separation) to the similar degree of Ray Palmer/ATOM in Arrow (who we now know will be visiting STAR Labs in episode 18 along with Felicity). There’s an interesting side observation in Hartley’s escape attempts and confrontations with Cisco. Despite the results Cisco shows a lot more fighting skill than we’d expect from him. This could be an early subtle hint that we will see him masking up as Vibe at some point way way into the horizon (or just that he’s taken a few classes in the past).
In Superbowl Sunday tradition we must honour a worthy character here. Someone that has come off bench to steal this episode as the clear MVC (Most Valuable Character) of the night; ladies and gentlemen, please show your appreciation for........ drunk Catlin Snow! In the same way Big Bang’s Burnadette seemingly has to get mad every few episodes because she’s just so brilliant doing it we may have to amend Danielle Panabaker’s contract to give her an alcoholic subplot. She is absolutely phenomenal in this episode as she hits the booze with Barry in response to Cisco claiming she doesn’t have a life while she’s still hung up over Ronnie. Everything that follows in that bar and beyond is utter comedic gold from the karaoke duet with Grant Gustin flexing his West Side Story background (“you’re fast and you can sing... what can’t you do?”) to the hilarious implications of using speed force powers to get a drunken friend home and into bed. Barry helping a motor skill impaired Catlin with a quick change is a particular highlight “there you go again, saving me from that evil dress”. Her morning after shades and sensitivity just complete the package. The mid-season finale writing double act of Todd & Aaron Helbing (The Arrow-verse answer to the Russo brothers) are again on outstanding form having clearly identified Panabaker’s wonderful comedic skills as an untapped resource for these incredible results. Let’s hope she gets the chance to do more in the future as her character moves away from Ronnie mourning. There’s the odd indicator she may be building a liking for Barry but this seems unlikely as even with his speed powers Barry has enough romantic action to keep him busy already with Iris on the back burner and the new arrival of Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries, Star Crossed) as Linda Park. Though in the comics she’s traditional Wally West’s female flame her inclusion still plays nicely and it’s just what the series needed too. Seeing Barry mope over Iris every week has already had its grating moments. This looks set to the ideal change up. Plus having have her work with Iris makes for a nice “this is super awkward” (I’m sorry, I had to go there!) reversal on Iris with Eddie working alongside Barry. We’ll probably see both couples on at least one overly tense double date. As for Catlin, Cisco seems the logical fella to fling her with even if for short while.
Even putting drunk Catlin and the rest aside this episode also has one big secret weapon (a veritable Trickster level bag of tricks this week!) up its red leather sleeves and that is the big Flash daddy himself John Wesley Snipp. Now we’ve already had some great JWS moments this season but this episode gives him his biggest part to date and crucially really utilises him as an actor. Some of his scenes genuinely should come with a “you will cry like when they cancelled Firefly” warning as finally getting present day Grant Gustin in the same room as him delivers some truly heart wrenchly “oh god make it stop I can’t take it” moments. From the little early surprise of Joe calling in a favour at the Iron Heights crime scene to let father and son touch each other for the first time in 14 years. To incredible conclusion of Henry Allen putting the episode’s Flash related events together and his “If the Flash was my son” speech to Barry.... don’t be afraid to pause it and take a moment it you need to; I genuinely did. It’s a firm reminder that JWS was not just a token casting choice for his 1990 series credentials; he’s also a dam fine actor. Hopefully this mutual comprehension will see them getting more time together (i.e. Barry sneaking in for a visit) in future episodes and not a Moira Queen level death sentence.
Purely on strength and skill of characters this is arguably the best episode yet of this incredible series. Wonderful laughs, brilliant action, moving emotional scenes and even a Gorilla Grood teaser! It almost feels like the show has secretly gone through a few time loops to already become this good this quick (speaking of which, we can expect the first time travel episode quite soon!). Flash, you make us crazy in the most beautiful of ways; don’t you dare slow down.